Even in a country with a large population and rapid population growth, there can be labor shortages in the agricultural sector, because of outmigration of the able-bodied work force. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is not necessarily more labor-intensive once the methods have been learned, but the initial labor requirements can be a barrier to adoption, and farmers with large land areas cannot find the labor needed to use these more productive methods. Recognizing this problem, a set of agricultural implements have been designed for mechanizing the operations of SRI, with a view to reducing water requirements as well as labor requirements because the current conditions for agricultural production in the Punjab region of Pakistan include water scarcity and poor water quality as well as labor shortages. This article reports on the process of mechanizing SRI production in Punjab, which has been quite successful so far. Average yield is considerably increased with a 70% reduction in water requirements and a similar reduction in labor needs. The machinery and methods have been further adapted to other crops, being grown on permanent-raised beds, so that SRI with organic fertilization is combined with Conservation Agriculture. This combination is referred to as “paradoxical agriculture” because it enables farmers to achieve higher outputs with reduced inputs.
Conservation agriculture Mechanization No-till Organic agriculture Paradoxical agriculture System of rice intensification